The concept of writing to oneself at a younger stage of life is certainly not original.  Numerous people have used this literary device to convey lessons they have learned through time and experience.  This is my first public attempt to reach back into the past and speak from acquired wisdom to that teenager growing up in the 1980s (and anyone else who will listen).  Although styles and society have changed greatly in thirty years, some principles that I have learned remain steadfast.

Hey Matt!

Take a good look at the people sitting around you in the cafeteria.  Listen to their conversations.  (Probably more trivial than meaningful, but you won’t see it that way.)  Think about who you consider to be your friends.  What common bonds draw you together?  Why is it so important to be accepted by certain groups?

At your ten-year class reunion, you will engage in conversation with some people you tended to look past in school.  The reason is that you share important common ground.  Others will still be friends, but you will discover a different foundation for your friendship.  Often, this common ground is a shared perspective, specifically our faith in Christ and a desire to serve Him.

I was reminded of that again last week in our men’s Bible study group.  I sat with some of the same guys that are at the lunchroom table across from you.  You probably hear conversations revolving around homework, sports, music, and girls (not necessarily in that order).  On the same campus thirty years later, we were discussing how to make our life’s work have lasting value.  We challenged each other to be a witness in the workplace and elsewhere.  Every week there is some talk of how to become a godly husband and father.

It’s funny to think of the contrast between our choice of topics in 1982 and 2010.  I find that I like some of the same people that I did in high school – for a whole new set of reasons.  Mind you, there was a great group of teenagers at Keswick back then.  I just don’t remember our primary topic of conversation always being about maintaining a separated life and striving for excellence in our walk with God.

Use biblical standards and pick your friends wisely.  Don’t be afraid to think deep thoughts and speak about spiritual concepts.  Be bold about your faith.  One day a lot of your friends will eagerly talk about their love for the Lord and His Word.  Consider this your chance to be a trendsetter.

By the way, keep your plaid board shorts.  Eventually, they will be back in style – or at least your kids will need them for ‘80s day at school.

What do you wish you could tell your teen-aged self?